Bill Lippert

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Effort to bypass exchange for small business continues

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration and lawmakers are moving forward with efforts to scrap plans for the small business function on the state’s online health insurance marketplace. Under state law, small businesses are supposed to be enrolling employees through Vermont Health Connect, the state-based insurance exchange created under the federal Affordable Care Act. But the website, which launched in October 2013, has never included that online function, known as Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. As a result, small businesses have enrolled employees directly through the two insurance carriers offering health plans on the exchange — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care. Rep. William Lippert, D-Hinesburg, the chairman of the House Health Care Committee, has introduced a bill to allow the state to seek a so-called 1332 waiver to allow small businesses to continue enrollment directly through the carriers. Continue Reading →

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RFK Jr. and Vermont moms make their cases on vaccines

MONTPELIER — A prominent member of the country’s most storied political family testified against the elimination of the state’s philosophical exemption for vaccines Tuesday, accusing the Centers for Disease Control of corruption as he made his case to lawmakers. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of the slain former U.S. senator, attorney general and presidential candidate, told members of the House Health Care Committee that he supports vaccination. But he said some vaccines that contain thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound in some vaccines, can cause harm in children. The CDC, Kennedy said, which determines which vaccines children should receive, has not done a proper job of protecting them and has bowed to pressure from pharmaceutical companies. He said the trillion dollar industry spends twice as much on lobbying as any other industry. Continue Reading →

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In 8-3 vote, House Judiciary Committee approves end-of-life bill

An end-of-life bill that had been dismantled on the Senate floor earlier this year has been pieced back together in the House, where the judiciary committee this afternoon approved legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients. The Oregon-style “death with dignity” bill heads to the House floor next Tuesday, where it to have the votes needed to pass the full body. The legislation will then head back over to the Senate floor. Supporters are hoping for better luck there this time around than they had in February, when a 21-page bill was scrapped on the Senate floor in favor of a three-paragraph provision that essentially indemnifies doctors for knowingly supplying suffering patients with doses of pharmaceuticals sufficient to end their lives. Sen. Peter Galbraith, the Windham County Democrat who authored the amendment, said the language satisfied the desires of people seeking control over end-of-life decisions without creating a state-sanctioned process by which physicians can abet the hastening of death. Continue Reading →

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